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US Flags At Half Mast As COVID Deaths Top Half Million

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Monday, COVID-19 deaths in the United States crossed the tragic mark of half million, a toll that matches the number of Americans killed in three wars.

In memory of more than 500,000 Americans who died from the COVID-19 pandemic, President Joe Biden, First Lady Jill Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris and Second Gentleman Douglas Emhoff observed a moment of silence at the White House.

Biden ordered that the flag of the United States be flown at half-staff at the White House and on all public buildings and grounds, at all military posts and naval stations, and on all U.S. naval vessels until sunset February 26. The flag shall be flown at half-staff for the same period at all United States embassies, legations, consular offices, and other facilities abroad.

Speaking at a candle-lighting ceremony at the sunset, Biden noted that the U.S. Covid death toll was higher than the number of American deaths from the two World Wars and the Vietnam War combined.

Despite passing the grim milestone, new cases and hospitalizations are falling sharply across the country.

With 1454 new deaths, the total U.S. COVID-19 fatalities rose to 500310, as per Johns Hopkins University's latest data.

59462 new cases of coronavirus infections were reported in the country in the last 24 hours, taking the national total to 28190409.

A total of 55,403 COVID patients are currently admitted in hospitals across the country, according to COVID Tracking Project. This is the lowest figure since November 6.

CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky told media that the pandemic in the United States has been declining for five weeks, with the seven-day average dropping 74 percent since the peak on January 11.

The seven-day average for new hospital admissions — 6,500 a day — reflects a 60 percent decline since the peak on January 9. It is the lowest seven-day average in new hospital admissions since last fall.

The number of reported deaths also continues to decline, with the seven-day average slightly more than 1,900 deaths, dropping 39 percent compared to the prior seven-day average. This is the lowest since the beginning of December.

On Monday, CDC published a concerning report in the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report that details an investigation of COVID-19 spread in eight public elementary schools in a single school district in Georgia during a period of high community spread.

In the report, researchers identified nine clusters of COVID-19 cases involving 13 educators and 32 students of at least six elementary schools. In two of these clusters, COVID-19 was spread first from educator to educator, and then from educator to student. These two clusters accounted for half of all the school-associated cases.

The two main reasons for the spread of COVID-19 in these schools were inadequate physical distancing and mask adherence, according to Dr. Walensky.

White House COVID-19 Response Team said in a Press Briefing that CDC is hosting a National Forum on Vaccines, where thousands of participants from around the country will discuss practical strategies, technical resources, and best practices for vaccination efforts.

Texas' seven-day average of administered COVID-19 doses decreased by 31 percent in the past week due to winter storm.

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